Josiah Brown, MD

Professor of Medicine
University of California, Los Angeles

Josiah Brown, loved and respected Chief of Endocrinology, deeply appreciated by students and colleagues at the UCLA School of Medicine, a gentle, kind and courageous man, died in a tragic accident in Brazil on August 30, 1985. He was internationally known as a physician, pioneer educator, and outstanding scientist, and his premature death was a shocking loss to the world of medicine and to all who knew him.

Dr. Brown was born on a farm in Utah. As a small child he came with his family to Los Angeles in 1927. In 1944 he received his A.B. degree from the University of California, Los Angeles and went on to get his medical degree from UC San Francisco in 1947. After postgraduate training in internal medicine and pathology in San Francisco, Boston and Cincinnati, he decided on a research career and undertook intensive research training at the National Cancer Institute and the New England Center Hospital (Boston). He returned to UCLA in 1955, in the early days of the medical school, and played a major role in the growth and development of the new school.

His earliest scientific work included studies on the physiology of the thyroid as well as biochemical studies of lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, with especially notable contributions to knowledge regarding the hexokinases.

His major research centered on the ambitious challenge to develop a cure for diabetes. In an outstanding series of 22 papers, Dr. Brown and his team described their work on fetal transplantation of the pancreas, including the surgical technique, the importance of the site of transplantation, the role of cryopreservation, how to encourage the growth of the transplant, its functional characteristics, the role of culture in vitro before transplantation and studies of the immunology of fetal tissue. Truly a tour de force, this body of work will have provided the foundation for all future efforts to use fetal pancreatic tissue as the transplant. Studies are actively continuing at UCLA, along with research on the transplantation of adult tissue. Inspired by Dr. Brown's commitment, a member of the local community formed a foundation which has raised large amounts of money to support research directed at the cure of diabetes; this, too, is continuing as part of Dr. Brown's legacy to UCLA and to science.

Dr. Brown received numerous national and international acknowledgments for his outstanding work. He was an Honorary Fellow of the Courtauld Institute of Biochemistry, London, a Senior International Fellow of the Fogerty Foundation and was an invited lecturer to Peking, China. He was a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, The Endocrine Society, the American Diabetes Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Western Society for Clinical Investigation.

Dr. Brown stands for the best and the brightest in the American academic tradition. By giving generously of himself, he had a profound impact on students, patients, colleagues and on the world of science. He possessed all the qualities so necessary for serious scientific work--perseverance, patience, integrity and modesty. He was the boss, but never bossy; he would suggest, never impose; support, yet never control; encourage, never overpower. The source of his influence and personal force sprang from three deeply centered characteristics--integrity, courage, and humanism.

Past lecturers and dates of symposium listed below

  • 2022: Peter Butler, MD; University of California, Los Angeles
  • 2021: Sadaf Farooqi, MD; University of Cambridge
  • 2020: Daniel J. Drucker, MD; University of Toronto
  • 2019: Carla J. Greenbaum, MD; Benoroya Research Institute
  • 2018: Mark Goodarzi, MD PhD ; Cedar Sinai Medical Center
  • 2017: Barbara Khan, MD ; Harvard University
  • 2016: Michael S. German, M.D ; University of California San Francisco
  • 2015: Joel Elmquist, DVM, PhD ;UT Southwestern Medical Center
  • 2014: Thomas Buchanan, MD ; University of Southern California
  • 2013: William T. Cefalu, MD ; Louisiana State University
  • 2012: Peter In't Veld, PhD ;Free University of Brussels, Belgium
  • 2011: Edwin Gale, MD  ;University of Bristol, UK
  • 2010: Michael Thorner, MD ;University of Virginia
  • 2009: John Adams, MD; University of California, Los Angeles
  • 2008:Andrew Hattersley, MD ; Peninsula Medical School, Exeter, UK
  • 2006: Johan Auwerx, MD, PhD ; Universite Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg
  • 2004: Stephen M Haffner, MD ; University of Texas, San Antonio
  • 2003: Jerrold M Olefsky, MD ; University of California, San Diego
  • 2002: Gerald Shulman, MD, PhD ; Yale University
  • 2000: George L King, MD ; Harvard University
  • 1999: Clifton Bogardus, MD ; National Institutes of Health (NIH)-NIDDK
  • 1998: C Ronald Kahn, MD  ; Harvard University
  • 1996: Kenneth S Polonsky, MD ; University of Chicago
  • 1992: Jerrold M Olefsky, MD ; University of California, San Diego
  • 1987: Ralph M Steinman, MD ; Rockefeller University